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Bridge program prepares freshmen for college success

August 21, 2015
KOKOMO, Ind. — Making the transition from high school to college can be intimidating.

Incoming Indiana University Kokomo freshman Peyton Colvin feels prepared for the challenge ahead of her, after participating in the campus’ summer Bridge program.

“I was anxious before this program, but now I have friends here and I will recognize familiar faces on campus,” said Colvin, from Gas City.

About 100 first-year students participated in the program, spending two weeks touring the campus, finding class locations, meeting key faculty and staff, and taking self-assessments to identify potential careers for their individual skills and abilities. It also is a chance to create friendships and build support systems before fall semester begins.

In Colvin’s section, led by faculty members Karla Stouse and Minda Douglas, the students took a field trip to the Indianapolis Musuem of Art, where they learned about art community-building opportunities. Other Bridge program participants worked in the campus garden, took a field trip to the Indiana State Museum, created podcasting projects, and painted and created donation boxes for the Humane Society as a service project.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for incoming freshmen to get a step ahead in creating a successful college experience,” said Stouse, senior lecturer in English. “The students have more confidence at the end to ask for help, and so they are then more prepared for this journey. This is truly a growth process for these new students.”

Stouse and Douglas led the pilot program in 2014, with 24 students. Several of those students returned this summer to share their experiences with the 2015 participants. Based on the positive response from those students, the campus applied for and received a $134,000 grant from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to expand the Bridge program and include more students. Each student who participates in this free program receives one college credit.

“This has been a great experience because we have learned about different resources, scholarships, and received advice,” said Abbi Cook, 18. “I really feel that we get to choose what happens on this campus.”

“After being at the university for the past two weeks, I am knowledgeable about the campus,” said Kamuel Shem, from Marion. “I am definitely going to join the philosophy club.”

Support for the students doesn’t end after the two-week session. The students also may take a one-credit Bridge class during the fall semester, where they can take a free career assessment, have access to résumé tools, and gain assistance with budgeting their money.

Chelsi Day, director of the Office of Counseling and Psychological Services, also will talk with them about the challenges of student life, and resources available to help them balance college with busy schedules.

“This program shows students that an undergraduate education spans beyond direct classroom experience,” said Kelli Keener, director of academic advising. “College develops you personally and professionally by helping you learn how to overcome challenges and how to build your own successes.”

Story written by Kambren Stanley. Kambren is an intern in the Office of Media & Marketing.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 08/21/2015